Left, the home photographed by Howard Maxwell, the father of Melinda Maxwell-Smith, who grew up there. Right, the home today.

About the Lost Lautner

The official name for the “lost” Lautner is the Jules Salkin Residence, after the developer who commissioned it. It’s part of a group of houses the architect built early in his career with prefabricated roof structures. It was built in 1948 in Elysian Park of Los Angeles, and sits perched up in the hills overlooking the city below and the beloved Kite Hill Trail.

By 1948, Lautner was a decade or so removed from studying under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz. He had moved to Los Angeles to assist Wright on residential projects and establish his own practice, where he promoted his mentor’s style of organic modernism, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. When Lautner submitted the building plans for the Salkin Residence to the city, he didn’t yet have his architect’s license — that came in 1952 — and another man had to sign for him, This left the architectural gem a secret for 65 Years even though it was completed around the same time as more acclaimed Lautner projects like the Desert Hot Springs Motel.